L.I. Couple Arrested Under Social Host Law Months After Teen’s Death

DIX HILLS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Shocking charges on Long Island as parents are arrested for allegedly allowing their teenager to host a house party with booze in their basement.

Taylor Ann Cavaliere, 16, walked away from the home after drinking and was killed when she was hit by a car. CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan set out to ask the question: who is responsible?

Commack High School is abuzz with word that parents of a student were arrested for allowing underage drinking inside their home, five months after the tragic and shocking death of Cavaliere.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall On The Story

Police said the teen stumbled away from the Dix Hills house party with alcohol in her system and was struck and killed as she tried to walk across the nearby parkway.

“We arrested the homeowners — Mr. and Mrs. Gelb under the Suffolk County Social Host Law,” said New York State Trooper Frank Bandiero.

Police say Robert and Lori Gelb were not serving the students alcohol, but were aware what was going on and did not take the legal steps to stop some 30 teens from drinking beer in their basement.

“They just held the party. They knew they were drinking, but it’s not like they expected somebody to die,” Commack senior Erik Chung told McLogan.

“It was really sad and it had a big toll on everyone,” said another student.

“It’s not the right thing when you’re an adult and allow this type of behavior,” parent Manny Vider added.

“Mr. and Mrs. Gelb, they are stressed, they are distraught over what happened. They are decent people. They just failed to take the proper action,” State Police Investigator James Chadwick said.

When Chadwick was asked by McLogan if the couple was “aware that children were leaving — either driving away or walking away drunk,” he answered “they were aware that they were leaving the home.”

Several teens told police they bought the beer at a Commack 7-Eleven and after a long investigation, state troopers also arrested clerk Mohammad Ellahi for unlawful sale of alcohol to minors.

A close family friend of the Cavaliere’s, who asked CBS 2 to record only her voice. said arrests are doing little to console their constant grief over the loss of their brilliant and popular daughter.

“Yesterday when the seniors of Commack High School gathered for a group picture, many friends put her initials on their back. Taylor will be forever in our broken hearts,” the friend said.

The Gelbs did not go to jail. They were released on their own recognizance and face only a $500 fine and a summons to appear in court in November.

Do you agree with the social host law, which puts adults in a place of responsibility when it comes to underage drinking in their homes? Sound off below!

More from Jennifer McLogan
Comments

One Comment

  1. nicole says:

    First let me say that, of course, I pity the victim. However, you have to be very very drunk (and/or high) to try and cross the NSP.. So I believe there is more to the story than a girl having a couple of beers. Also the point that is lost on all the parents here is that underage drinking is ILLEGAL; that means you will go to jail, lose your freedoms, have it on your permanent record, not be able to get licensed as a doctor or lawyer or teacher or police officer, etc. This is serious and will have consequences the rest of your life. How short-sighted and arrogant to be believe that you or your kids are above the law. It is a statistical fact that children who engage in underage drinking will be more likely to have problems with alcohol as they get older. The notion that the parents will “supervise” the drinking in their own home is absurd. This is just practice for more and more debauched behavior. Parents need to be parents and say “no” to their children. Period.

  2. R U Kidding says:

    First time the kid got drunk and lost her life over it but I bet it’s not the first time the kid got drunk. Now convince me that her parents weren’t familiar with the crowd their daughter was hanging out with then convince me that this was her first encounter with alcohol.

    How many times previous did she make it home – stumbling and her parents never noticed?

  3. Poor TEENAGE Behavior says:

    SHAME on the moronic adults placing blame on adults that stopped the party once

    they were aware of alcohol being consumed. This could happen to any parent of a

    teen that opens their home up to their friends. Some kids will lie and sneak around,

    so why should these parents be held accountable. Repots state they did the

    right thing by ending the party.

  4. TEENAGE BAD BEHAVIOR says:

    Many teens by nature will sneak and lie so the responsibility for drinking behind the

    backs of adults in a home should not be the adults who were gracious enough to

    allow kids to get together in their home. These types of accidents have and will

    always occur as long as the kids choose to get wasted. Do not blame The

    Gelbs for this horrific accident. Most likely, they did not know the amount of

    alcohol being consumed. Each situation has to be looked at for its own merits.

  5. J Clare says:

    My son at 16 years old died December 19, 2009 – while drunk in Nassau County at the home of a parent – with a very similar situation. All participants indicated to the police that the drinking took place in a field not at the house – I had no proof. Nassau County fine is $250, I believe. It is a SAD SITUATION – PARENTS NEED TO WAKE UP – The Bellmore Fair was another recent situation where teen drinking and drugs was noticable late Saturday night – IT is a SAD Situation – and represents a class of parents who do not care.

    1. J Clare says:

      The seller of the alchol went to court – I made sure this happened working with the D.A. in Nassau County. It took six months – but in court the seller got a reduced sentence – and I made that young man personnally apoligize to me in open court. I understand he still drinks.

  6. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx says:

    brilliant and popular daughter really well maybe not so brilliant she died from being stupid.

  7. Natalie says:

    So tragic! Parents need to realize the serious legal consequences as well as other types of consequences when they choose to let their teens drink at home. Many parents believe this is the safer approach – by supervising the drinking, they can teach responsible drinking, but here are some reasons to avoid allowing teens to drink at home: http://www.askthejudge.info/5-reasons-parents-should-avoid-supervised-drinking-on-prom-grad-night/9679/

  8. Jeannette says:

    All the responsibility is shown for the Gelbs and he seller, which I agree they have SOME of the responsibilty. What about the parents of the girl? Why did they allow her to go? Why didn’t they investigate where this “popular” student was going? Why did the girl choose to drink? The responsibility extends beyond the hosts. The loss is tragic but let’s not make it worse by trying to blame everyone.

    1. The Gels are responsible!! says:

      Jeannete, Are you nuts? The only people being blamed here are The Gelbs and the Deli Clerk, Teens will be Teens and will drink alcohol. But these parents allowed it in their home and therefore took responsibility for everyone who was there. They are responsible indirectly for this tragedy, but more than anyone other than the girl who died.

      1. J Clare says:

        Exactly

    2. Johnny Handsome says:

      I agree that parent should be held to some accountability but the the person consuming the drink -Taylor Ann Cavaliere- should be held 90% responsible. Teens are not stupid, They know when they drink what will happen. I’m going to assume that Mr. and Mrs. Gelb wanted to be the “cool” parents. Serving alcohol to minors is against the law. They need to answer to some form of punishment but causing the death of the Ms. Cavaliere? No that was totally and completely on Ms. Cavalere.

  9. fajskdfjkajsd says:

    an intelligent parent would NOT allow a teenager to be alone and host a party at all. my folks never allowed anyone in the family have a party unless one of them was present in the home. and all alcohol was kept locked away so no one could access it.
    parents who allow a teenager to host a party alone in the home are being very irresponsible in the first place

    1. J Clare says:

      Totally Agree –

  10. skljgkljsfdgjsfdkjgq6er2643@9578932457.com says:

    These social host liability laws are another way to extort money out of people or establishments all because one person chooses to be irresponsible, get drunk, and then end up being killed, injured or killing and injuring someone else.
    Anyone who gets drunk is responsible for their own behavior, not the person serving the alcohol.

    1. Jerry Q. says:

      Whatever you say, Beavis.

    2. jtorres says:

      Underage drinking is illegal for a reason. The same as smoking and statutory rape. The ADULT is supposed to be the responsible party when miinors are involved. If she were an adult, this would just be a tragic accident. She didn’t acquire the alcohol on her own and that makes the adults present, who allowed it to happen, at fault.

  11. jakljgldsjfksdajfksadjf says:

    I do NOT believe in social host liabliity laws because ANYONE can attend a party where alcohol is being served (i am referring to parties where everyone is over 21) and leave, get drunk somewhere else, and then drive drunk and cause an accident and blame the host. THe host should not be responsible – it is the drunken person that should be held liable. Due to these social host liability laws, i WILL NOT host a large party in my home with alcohol. instead, i have the party a restaurant. if a guest gets drunk and causes an accident and kiills someone, they can hold the restaurant liable instead of me.

  12. C Ward says:

    Yes the parents need to be held responsible but in reality it does nothing to ease the pain of the Loss of Taylor Ann for her family & friends. The Gelbs were the adults who were aware that drinking was going on in their home & did nothing to stop it and or to see that the teenagers drinking made it home safely. If you can not throw a party for minors as an adult & not prevent underage drinking then you have no business hosting a party in your home. I am sure the Gelb’s must feel grief that their in-action did contribute to Taylor Ann’s death. Yes, Taylor Ann had been drinking but no way do I believe a 16 yr old girl would try to cross the Northern State in this day age unless she was under the influence of something. Which could’ve very well been prevented had the Gelb’s had control in their own home. Nothing will bring Taylor Ann back. As a distant cousin of the Cavaliere’s my thoughts & prayers are with them as well with the memory of Taylor Ann.

  13. C Ward says:

    Yes the parents need to be held responsible but in reality it does nothing to ease the pain of the Loss of Taylor Ann for her family & friends. The Gelbs were the adults who were aware that drinking was going on in their home & did nothing to stop it and or to see that the teenagers drinking made it home safely. If you can not throw a party for minors as an adult & prevent drinking then you have no business hosting a party in your home. I am sure the Gelb’s must feel grief that their in-action did contribute to Taylor Ann’s death. Yes, Taylor Ann had been drinking but no way do I believe a 16 yr old girl would try to cross the Northern State in this day age unless she was under the influence of something. Which could’ve very well been prevented had the Gelb’s had control in their own home. Nothing will bring Taylor Ann back. As a distant cousin of the Cavaliere’s my thoughts & prayers are with them as well with the memory of Taylor Ann.

  14. G says:

    Parents need to teach their kids and ALSO know themselves that that there are CONSEQUENCES to everythng you do and say.

  15. Joe of B'hurst says:

    Was Taylor drunk? The article does not state this. The article does not state that alcohol played a major role in her death. The Police are stating she stumbled across the parkway—who witnessed this and did nothing about it? Police are just showboating to place blame on the Gelbs, because the driver of the car was connected by marriage to law enforcement.

  16. Ted Ball says:

    with all the alcohol on tv and in movies these kids are going to drink were ever they end up. what if the kids got into an auto and drove around drinking and ended up killing more people. ALL parents need to be vigilent about their childrens activities and start taking responsibility for the way they raised them.

  17. DOUBLE_CHINNED_PUPPETEER says:

    The Gelb’s are scapegoats. Set them free.

    1. Ro says:

      Seriously???? Were they or were they not aware that underage drinking took place in their home? Do they keep up on Legal age limits? If my kid was at a gathering in someone’s home and I found out the parents were “Cool” with the drinking, guess what? There would be a major problem. Scapegoats???? A young girl is dead. I wish they would arrest more parents because it’s a fact that parents not only allow this in their home but go buy the liquor as well!

      1. J Clare says:

        The 1st offense – for this crime is not enough – either in Nassau or Suffolk Counties – What ever happened to the use of “Stocks” in punishments!!!
        Stocks are devices used in the medieval times as a form of physical punishment involving public humiliation. The stocks partially immobilized its victims and they were often exposed in a public place such as the site of a market to the scorn of those who passed by. Since the purpose of putting offenders in the stocks was to expose them to ridicule and mockery, passers-by were encouraged to throw at those being punished mud, rotten eggs, mouldy fruit and vegetables, smelly fish, offal, and excrement (both animal and human). Consequently, many of those who sat in the stocks were very dirty and smelly by the time that they were let out.

  18. Surfin Bird says:

    Bad parenting. If they have other children social services needs to removed them

  19. No Justice at all!! says:

    So the Idiot who sold the beer to the minors gets arrested and goes to jail and the idiots who allowed the minors in their home to drink the beer, were in the home as the kids drank the beer and then let the kids leave in their cars or walk home get a summons and go home?! Where is the justice in that. I guess being the cool parents who allow minors to get drunk in their home and walk away to die will never know what justice is. Do they know someone in government?

  20. doc in NJ says:

    “The Gelbs did not go to jail. They were released on their own recognizance and face only a $500 fine and a summons to appear in court in November.”

    pray tell, what nefarious acts will enforcement of this “law” prevent?

    1. MCK says:

      Hopefully the shame of being the adults that allowed these kids to drink and allowed them to leave the party drunk causing the death of one should do more good than putting them in jail. As they walk the streets, the mall, the supermarket, etc…..they’ll always be the one stared at and whispered about….”those are the parents.”
      Difficult as it may be in today’s world….be aware of what your kids are doing…..being your child’s friend is secondary to being their parent!

      1. doc in NJ says:

        you’re right – the embarrassment should be enough.

  21. man from old ways says:

    the mother and father of the girl that died should go to jail watch your kids they know what there kids do

    1. jtorres says:

      It is relatively impossible to watch your kids 24-7. You trust they’ll be safe at a friend’s house. I’m sure her parents didn’t know there was alcohol at the party and/or that their daughter was drinking. Had they known do you really bekieve they would have let her go? Would you? The owners of the home and the one who sold the alcohol to the minors are the responsible ones

  22. mary says:

    Did the Cicciaro family also provide alcohol for underage teenagers, which also ended in tragedy? It always made me wonder why they were not charged with providing booze to minors.

  23. CommackParent says:

    Parenting is not an easy task, you have to have will power to deal with all the complex emotional issues teenagers go through and put you through. You first must be their parent, then their friend for their well being. You must ask questions, however difficult or uncomfortable it may be for you or them. Communication, respect and morality is lacking amongst the young. The visions shown to them via MTV and other programming is so disgusting, making it seem normal and acceptable to drink and behave foolishly. Parents have to be strong to battle all outside influences, and do not give in when your child says “but all of the other parents allow it” or “all of my friends are doing it”. There are consequences when parents allow drinking in their home, it a shame that a beautiful young girl had to die, so that some us could realize them.

  24. CommackMom says:

    How in the love of humanity is anyone blaming the victim? Underage drinking is illegal, allowing it in your home is unconscionable, selling to minors is irresponsible, engaging in it is what teens try to do the ADULTS need to prevent it from happening. There is a child who is dead and her parents must live each day with that reality. What about all the other kids who were drinking at that party? What happens to them?

    1. CalmDown says:

      I don’t think people are “blaming” the victim, but I do think people are just saying that some personal responsibility needs to be involved in this too. Yes, the parents allowed the party to happen and yes the clerk sold the alcohol, but this girl was 16 not 5, she knew what alcohol was and I guarantee you this wassn’t her first time getting drunk. It’s a tragedy and the parents and clerk SHOULD be held responsible, but lets not make it seem like this girl was force fed alcohol, kicked out of the house and thrown into the middle of oncoming traffic.. I feel for her parents, but they need to realize that their daughter does bear at least some of the blame for what happened to her..

  25. diana says:

    Yes, i agree adults are responsible for underaged drinkers in their home. This law should be enforced.

  26. B says:

    the “host” parents ended the party as soon as they discovered alcohol. They are being “charged” for not following Suffolk County procedure which was to call the police and report the improper use of alcohol by minors. How many people would have done the same as these parents? How many people would call the police on the friends? How many people are even aware of this law?

  27. Bigbrostyx Walls says:

    It’s a tragic shame all these young people leaving this world in such a horrible fashion.Irresponsible adults and I use the term loosely should be held accountable.Condolences to this young woman’s family,may she rest in peace.

  28. LiberalsAreEvil says:

    Taylor could not have been that bright if she went out and got drunk! She was old enough and knowledgable enough to know that getting drunk can only get one in trouble.

  29. she is only one to blame says:

    I doubt she would of made it to being a DR not to many alchoholics do .Her parents should of seen the signs of all the pressure they put on her sad story but she should of learned to say no.

  30. jerseyjoey says:

    It is a good law only if its enforced equally on the wealthy classes as the mid to lower classes and not abused by revenue seeking police and townships. An other thing to keep in mind is this, if the parents are out or away and a guardian or baby sitter introduces drinking should the parents be held accountable, very thin line but needs to be looked at.

  31. AGAINST UNDERAGE DRINKING says:

    I agree…. My 14 year old daugther went to a birthday party and the mother of the birthday girl gave her permission to drink alcohol for her and 5 other girls that attended a 15 year old birthday party..(my neighbors) Parents left for the whole night and left six girls unattended with alhocol around them. The kids (girls) were alone all night long and were drinking. I found out about it few days later. I forbid my daugther from being friends with the girl and approached girl’s mother who swore she did not give permission to her daugther to drink nor feed the other kids alcohol.. I dont believe the mother. She lied to me and never appologized for her crime… So parents should be kept responsible if their kids and kid’s friends are drinking in the house, WHEN THEY ARE UNDER THE LEGAL AGE…… If i went to police AND FILED A REPORT, the mother would have been arrested. I did not because I felt bad since it was my neighbor. A lesson to be learned to all the people… Hopefully the kid and the mother learned their lesson as well.. From now on my 14 year old will not have sleepovers in anybodys house….

    1. SHAME says:

      Good for you shame on the mother. She should be kept responsible for what she did… This law should definetely be in effect..

    2. Joe says:

      Are you really serious? Why dont you just lock your daughter up in your basement so she never is faced with the opportunity to make rationale decisions. This is the problem with America to many adults passing blame on everyone except for the person responsible for their actions. Since when are 14 year old kids not able to make rationale decisions as to drink or not. What are you asking of the Gelbs to frisk every child at the door? The report states they stopped the party once they became aware!

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